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Impact Factors and Citation Analysis

Adapted from Impact Factors and Citation Analysis, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University; used by permission.

Measuring Scholarly Impact

There is no single way to measure and compare research outputs and their impact, value, and prestige. There are multiple competing metrics developed by companies, groups, and individuals. This guide defines some commonly used metrics, identifies controversies, and offers assistance in finding various metrics about your research output.

Article impact: These metrics hold that the value of individual works, such as journal articles, conference proceedings, and books, can be measured by the number times they are cited by other works. This can include citations within scholarly works or alternative metrics such as tweets, blog posts, likes, bookmarks, etc. 

Journal impact: These metrics state that the importance of particular academic journals can be measured by the number of times their articles are cited and where they are cited.

Researcher impact: These metrics state that the success of particular researchers can be measured by the number of works they publish, the length of their career, the number of times their works are cited, and when these citations occur (soon after the publication or later in time).

Institutional impact: These metrics state that the prestige of a department or area of research within an institution can be measured by the collective impact (of individual researchers, journals in which they publish, and/or individual publications) compared to those at other institutions. 

Altmetrics: Altmetrics is a shortened version of  the phrase "alternative metrics." This word refers to counting mentions in works that are alternatives to the traditional journal article: social media posts, blog posts, newspaper articles, page views of a website, tweets, likes, bookmarks, favorites, or follows. Altmetrics are usually aimed at determining the impact of a specific journal article or book, and have also been used to assess the impact of scholarly publications in nontraditional or emerging formats like data sets, videos, infographics, presentations, web sites, or code.

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